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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 September 2005, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Indian girl's one-rupee suicide
Children in a village school in Andhra Pradesh attending their morning assembly
Half of India's children are malnourished, a UN report says
A 12-year-old Indian girl committed suicide after her mother told her she could not afford one rupee - two US cents - for a school meal.

Sania Khatun lived with her mother in a village north of Calcutta under a tarpaulin sheet provided by the state.

Sania normally ate nothing at school but on Friday saw classmates eating rice and asked for one rupee.

Her mother scolded her and when she returned from work found her daughter hanged from the ceiling with a sari.

"She wanted just one rupee... but her mother could not give her the money due to poverty," government official Nakul Chandran Mahato told the Reuters agency.


The mother, Jainab Bewar, is a widow who works as a maid in the village of Paraspur, 200km (125 miles) north of Calcutta.

She normally fed her daughter with food she could get from the houses she worked in.

India's Telegraph newspaper said Sania was tempted by the sight of classmates eating puffed rice and oil cakes.

Ms Bewar told the newspaper: "I did not give her the money as I did not have it. I snapped at her when she insisted on it."

She and her sons never earn more than $13 a month combined, she says.

India has seen unprecedented economic growth in recent years but many remain untouched by the improvements.

A recent UN report said half of India's children were still malnourished.

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